Tuesday, November 30, 2010

End-of-Course Examinations in Physical Science

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction

It has come to our attention that there may be some confusion about whether students who are enrolled in physical science will take the associated end-of-course test and whether it will count as twenty percent of their final grade. The answer is yes to both parts. Even though the physical science end-of-course test will be phased out, the original State Board regulation still applies. It requires that the test be administered and that the scores count as twenty percent of the final grade for as long as the test is administered. Please share this information with personnel in your district.

If additional information is needed, please contact me at rsjackso@lex5.k12.sc.us or 803-476-3353.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ashley Landess visits Dutch Fork High!

By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

The Dutch Fork High School “It Kids” got a special visit from Ashley Landess, the President of the South Carolina Policy Council, and Governor Elect Nikki Haley’s newest member of the Fiscal Crisis Task Force, on Friday November 12th. The South Carolina Policy Council has been described as a “think tank” that studies and recommends good public policy for the Legislature to use to pass laws that will benefit our state. Ms. Landess, an expert in developing public policy spoke about government accountability, spending transparency, and why an open government is necessary to have a good democracy. The class discussed what role, if any, the government at all levels has in contributing to our current economic crises, and the effect government spending will have on improving our state or federal economy.

The President of the Policy Council opened up the floor for a healthy debate asking the students to address any concerns they have as we embark on a new chapter in our state’s history. A litany of issues was debated including whether or not the five member Budget & Control Board has outlived its utility and should be abolished. One student stated their concern that lobbyists are a necessary part of passing good laws, but tax dollars shouldn’t be used to pay for their services. The apex of the debate focused on the issue of public education and what can be done to improve it in South Carolina. The students concluded any change will start with changing the antiquated system we currently have in place. Several students expressed their desire to have more choices in the current curriculum and others challenged student fees.

All involved in the heated debate agreed that in order to move South Carolina toward a brighter future we must aspire to make government work better for all citizens.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Governor's Chief of Staff Visits Dutch Fork High!

By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

Scott English, Governor Sanford’s Chief of Staff fielded tough questions from Kelly Payne’s Current Issues class last month. In the waning days of his final term in office the students asked what the twice-elected governor’s legacy will be and what some of the biggest challenges were working in the Sanford administration. English said Sanford was willing to work to reform state government, to make it leaner, more accountable and more responsive to the needs of the citizens, and that he will be most remembered for his common-sense reforms and fiscal conservatism. While the students agreed that the governor was a driving force for fundamental change in the way things are done in Columbia, his visionary reforms were often met with contention and ended up in a Legislative gridlock.

One of the students questioned the consistency of Sanford’s stalwart fiscal policies asking, “For years the government of South Carolina has used industry targeting or targeted tax incentives in an attempt to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Governor Sanford has been vehemently opposed to this. In fact he’s argued that although these policies are common among state governments, the efficacy of these policies has been called into question over and over again. Why did he help seal the Boeing deal? Isn’t that hypocritical?” English noted Sanford has always stayed true to his political roots. The Governor has brought a clear and consistent focus on the bottom line and the equation of what people pay in for government is what they get out.

The students were inquisitive about the extensive media coverage of his personal failings while serving as the state’s top leader. They questioned the Governor’s Chief of Staff asking him, “The appeal for a moral cleansing of the Governor resonates with the passive-negative character in its emphasis on not doing certain things. It also reinforces the character attuned to moral appeals to duty. Shouldn’t the public realize that the Governor is only human, and with all man’s vulnerability to moral error, the pendulum should not swing too far? Or is it legitimate to hold Sanford to a higher standard?” English quickly responded that elected officials should be held to a higher standard and that we are all human, and humans are not infallible. Rightly or wrongly, his time in office will be remembered by the pejorative remarks from the summer of 2009, when he left South Carolina and traveled to Argentina. The students also realized that the “business-as-usual” mindset that exists at the State House is dire need of change.

We appreciate the time Mr. English took from his busy schedule to speak to our class and to help better prepare our students for their future.

Kaylan Gee Named National Hollings Scholar

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Four University of Alabama students have received National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarships for 2010.
The four students are among 121 students nationwide awarded the scholarship this year.
Nineteen UA students have been named Hollings Scholars since the inception of the scholarship in 2005.

“These are excellent students, and they are very excited about winning this award,” said Dr. Gary Sloan, professor of microbiology and coordinator of prestigious scholarships and awards in UA’s Honors College.The scholarships provide $8,000 per year for full-time study during the junior and senior years and $6,500 for a 10-week internship at NOAA or a NOAA-approved facility during the summer between the junior and senior years.

The Hollings Scholarship Program, administered by NOAA, is designed to improve undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research technology, and natural resource education; increase public understanding of environmental stewardship; and improve scientific and environmental education in the United States.
Sloan said UA students in the past have interned in Hawaii, California, Miami and Washington, D.C.

Students studying biological and agricultural sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, computer and information sciences, social and behavioral sciences and teacher education are eligible to apply.

Kaylan Gee

Gee, a sophomore from Irmo, S.C., is double majoring in microbiology and Spanish in the College of Arts and Sciences. She works in the microbial ecology laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Edmonds, an assistant professor in the department of biological sciences. She researches changes in microbial communities in the Talladega National Forest caused by the demise of beaver dams. Gee is vice president of administration for Kappa Alpha Theta, as well as a member of SGA Judicial Board, Alpha Epsilon Delta and The Other Club. Gee also is a peer mentor for UA’s Honors College Connection, and she volunteers with Impact Alabama’s SaveFirst.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nine Horrible College Essay Topics

By:Deena Maerowitz






An admissions counselor shares the most common blunders.

When it comes to college essays, the goal is not to discover the next Shakespeare. College-admissions officers are really trying to find out about applicants: what excites them, what interests them, and what kind of addition they’ll be to a college community. However, when told to choose their own topic, some high-school students panic and write about the first thing that comes to mind, while others get overwhelmed and can’t write anything. It’s not a clear-cut process, and there are numerous opportunities for applicants to make mistakes. As an independent admissions counselor, I’ve read hundreds, if not thousands, of application essays over the years. Based on my experience, here are some of the most common missteps—and outrageous mistakes—that applicants make in writing their college essays.

1. The Scare Tactic: Applicants often try to highlight personality traits in their essays, but their examples may not make the impression they hoped for. One student tried to illustrate her tenacity by writing about her refusal to believe that a boy she was interested in was not interested in her, too. The essay ended with her standing on his doorstep waiting for him to come home. Another student wrote about doing “whatever it takes” to maintain his high GPA, including showing up at his teacher’s house to dispute about a test grade. The applicants honestly meant to show their best sides, but instead these essays can make admissions officers a little nervous.

2. The Love Letter: Applicants can go wrong writing about requited love, too. One young man wrote a very long essay praising everything about his girlfriend, in detail. I had to remind him that colleges want to hear about him, not his first love. All was not lost, though: I suggested he save the essay for when they got into a fight and he needed to apologize.

3. The Mountaintop Epiphany: It was a grueling physical and emotional challenge, but eventually the applicant made it to the top of whatever mountain she was climbing and had a life-changing epiphany about what is truly important. Either that, or the process of getting to the top of the mountain was a metaphor for her approach to life. While these milestone climbs are obviously important to the individual, there is little new to be said about them. Unless an applicant is an exceptionally deep thinker and skilled writer, it’s best to skip this well-worn topic.

4. The Insightful Impoverished: Community service can be a profound experience for many students. However, a popular conclusion to this type of essay goes like this: “As the plane took off, I smiled at the country I was leaving. Even though I was the one who came to help, they were the ones who gave me a gift, by showing that it’s possible to be happy even when you have nothing.” Unfortunately, this does not reflect as well on the writer, who may be perceived as naive and a bit entitled.

5. The Redundant Recitation: Many students I’ve worked with think that the most important thing for a college to know about them is that they are hard workers. If a student has good grades, however, the admissions office assumes he works hard. As the University of Texas at Austin advises, “Submitting the same information twice will not make your personal achievements seem any more noteworthy.” And if a student doesn’t have good grades, she’s telling the admissions office that she doesn’t succeed despite working hard.

6. The Meta-Essay: Each year, tens of thousands of students across the country struggle to come up with a topic for their college essay. And each year many of them think it might work to write about their current struggle to write their essay. Unfortunately for them, the “I couldn’t decide what to write so I’m writing about writing the essay” essay has already been done. A lot. The college-admissions officers want to know about what makes an applicant tick, and how he would enrich the community at the college or university he’s applying to. This topic really doesn’t help answer either of those questions well.

7. The Navel Gazer: What is life? How do we become the people we are? What is the point of human existence? If you’re asking rhetorical questions, are you actually saying anything? Philosophical discussions are great, but they can wait until freshman year. A college essay should talk about the applicant’s life and personality, not recount unanswered questions.

8. The A-Plus Paper: While the classic five-paragraph essay structure may get a student an A-plus in English class, it earns an F in the college-admissions process. The college essay should be a personal narrative, yet many students approach it as an academic paper, writing in detail about a novel, science topic, or political issue. I often tell students that their draft is beautifully written, but that I didn’t learn anything about them.

9. The Anti-Essay Manifesto: One young man wrote an essay that railed against the entire college-admissions process. He complained about how high-school grades didn’t reflect his genius, standardized tests couldn’t capture his potential, and admissions officers were too narrow-minded to understand how lucky the college would be to have him. Though the college-application process can be frustrating, criticizing the entire system—and the people who run it—isn’t a good way to make a first impression. I often tell students that after they get through this process they can criticize it all they like, and work to change it from within, but that an essay on this topic isn’t going to be their best tack in receiving an admit letter.

Most college-essay mistakes can be headed off with a little common sense, so I always advise applicants to talk through their essay ideas with a trusted person before they start writing. Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm! With a little effort—and a list of topics to steer clear of—you can make sure you avoid the worst college-essay mistakes.

Deena Maerowitz is a college-admissions consultant and a former admissons director at Columbia University Business School. .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When Listing Extracurricular Activities, No Need to Fill All Blanks

When Listing Extracurricular Activities, No Need to Fill All Blanks

As some high school seniors have already discovered, this year’s Common Application has up to a dozen spaces available for applicants to list their activities outside the classroom, including time spent working. For some go-getters, that’s probably not enough space — but for many others, it may be too much.

Which raises an obvious question: should an applicant stretch to fill those 12 lines?

The answer, say deans of admissions and the creators of the application itself, is a resounding “No.”
In my regular column for The Times’s Education Life supplement, which will be published this weekend, I have attempted to disentangle the section of the Common Application devoted to extracurricular activities. It includes a request to applicants that they “briefly elaborate on one” activity or work experience in four lines or less — a question that can be as important, if not more so, than the list itself.

Here’s how Monica C. Inzer, the dean of admissions at Hamilton College in New York and a member of the Common Application board, put it:

We’d rather see depth than a longer list. I think students think we want well-rounded kids. We do. But we really want a well-rounded class. That could be lots of people who have individual strengths. Distinction in one area is good, and better than doing a lot of little things.
You can read a preview of the full article here. Meanwhile, this is probably as good an occasion as any to start a comment thread on the subject of extracurricular activities. Please use the box below to let us know your thoughts.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kids Rock at Dutch Fork High!

By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

The Dutch Fork Interact Club students had a chance to participate in the “Kids Rock!” Concert on Sunday, November 7, 2010 held at Dutch Fork’s football field. “Kids Rock!” was a celebration of individuals of all ages with disabilities and special healthcare needs and the 20th Anniversary of Family Connection SC. American Idol finalist, LaKisha Jones, from Los Angeles, California performed a concert and local celebrities were in attendance. The activities for this event included a disability walk around the track with USC football players and students with special needs. There were games and a cheerleading performance by A.C. Flora & SC Cheer.

 Mia Peterson and Kaylin Gragg, both juniors at Dutch Fork High School spoke to the crowd about their brothers who have autism. Kaylin’s brother attends classes at Oak Pointe Elementary and is non-verbal which she said makes it hard for him to communicate with others. While Mia’s brother is a freshman here at Dutch Fork, is high functioning and able to participate in a traditional classroom with minimal support. Both students pointed out how fortunate their brothers are to have a strong support system in Lex/Richland 5. For more information about Family Connection SC please go to http://www.familyconnectionsc.org/home/.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Student Initiated Research at Dutch Fork High School

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction
       Langdon Warner, Ph.D., Research Teacher
       Barry Lindler, M.Ed., Research Teacher

As a part of the accelerated science experience, students at Dutch Fork High School are expected to build foundations, collaborate with students and teachers, explore problems and solutions, integrate all content areas together, and fully immerse themselves in the research process until they solve the problem with innovative findings. In our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program (plus our Project Lead the Way Engineering Program), students are doing just that! This year, we have 41 students developing projects in three broad areas:

  • Science and engineering: A total of 12 students are executing projects in the fields of biology, environmental science, medicine, chemistry, psychology, and engineering.  These projects require long term experimentation and field work and can last up to 7-8 months.  This group of students will also compete in several regional and statewide science competitions.
  • Computer science and technology: Twelve students, including 6 who are in their second year of research, are applying several programming languages to projects in three broad areas: a) new applications for mobile devices such as cell phones,  b) testing alternative video game strategies, and 3) developing new methods for displaying and using data, games, and puzzles.
  • The Honors Engineering Development and Design class.  A part of Dutch Fork’s career based CATE program, these 17 students are designing and testing a wide range of new products. They will also be building prototypes, conducting patent searches, and completing market analysis on their designs.
As a part of the external review process, each student has prepared a poster summarizing their project idea, required to present their idea to the public, and field/answer questions about their research design, methodology, and current findings.  The forty-one research projects are as follows:

We are very excited about this year's research and are looking forward to the findings. We will continue to update you as we learn more through this inquiry process.

Project Title
Testing different organic foods for the Roundup-Ready Gene
Using genetic markers, commonly found fruits and vegetables classified as organic will be tested for the presence of the Roundup-Ready gene
Is Used Vegetable Oil the Preferred Source for Biodiesel and other Fuels?

Four sources of biodiesel (peanuts, soybeans, jatropha, coconut milk and vegetable oil) will be compared using the iodine test (oil content) and a heated flame ionization detector (air emissions)
Redesigning storm drains to control non-point pollution from oil and litter
Conventional storm drains remove urban runoff quickly, with little consideration of water quality. This project will design and test bench scale and full size filters for storm drains to reduce litter and visible oils
A ranking of wetland habitats in the Hollingshed Creek watershed.
The Hollngshed Creek watershed faces rapid urbanization. This project will map wetlands and other sensitive areas, developing a numerical ranking system for areas with high environmental sensitivity
Reading comprehension vs. academic achievement of fifth grade boys and girls.
Using a sample of fifth grade students, this project will compare sample questions from commonly used reading comprehension tests and then develop alternatives that realistically sample reading ability of boys vs. girls.
Training your eyes: a study of peripheral vision

Can peripheral vision be improved through training and exercises? A training program will be developed and tested to determine if eye exercises can improve peripheral vision.
Optimal growth medium for the algae Botryococcus braunii for the purpose of fuel production
The green algae Botryococcus braunii will be grown in at least three mediums. The algae will then be analyzed based on volume grown and the amount of fuel produced, to determine the optimum medium for fuel production
A habitat assessment of two white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populationsUsing scent stations and other wildlife spotting techniques, the number and distribution of white tailed deer in a bottom land forested wetland and a mixed hardwood upland site of similar size will be compared.
Quantifying mood: color and the physical manifestations of mood
Tests of the physical reaction to different colors will be conducted by measuring change in heart rate, blood pressure, pupil dilation, and external body temperature as a way to quantify a feeling of changed mood.
Is Sucralose a potential carcinogen?
When sucrose is converted to the low calorie sugar substitute Sucralose, several hydroxyl groups are replaced with chlorine. This project will use a Salmonella based version of the AMES test to assess possible cancer risks.
Biodiversity of aquatic Organisms on two rapidly developing watersheds
Water quality and benthic invertebrate biodiversity will be compared in the watersheds of Hollingshed Creek and Wateree Creek. The first creek flows through suburbs while the second is largely rural.   
Does texting cause auditory short term memory loss in today’s adolescents?
A Distracter Test will be developed assessing short term memory with and without interruptions by cell phone text messages..

Project Title
iPhone/ipad/itouch Walkthrough Observation Application
An iPhone application will be developed to allow the school administrators to review staff members individually. Each report is emailed to the person being reviewed and saved to an online database.
Physics Formula Calculator (Android App Development)
A new Droid application will be developed allowing users to solve physics formulas for the missing variable. The formulas are part of the AP Physics B Formula Sheet.  This application will be useful to high school students taking AP Physics.
Risk Analysis
A program for a simple card game has been developed.  Players will be given a questionnaire designed to draw conclusions about the risk behavior of specific demographic groups.
Logic and Theory
A program is being developed for the "Hangman" game which will then be used as a medium to test the level of logic that players use in guessing games.
Color analysis and reaction time
A target based game where different colored targets appear on the screen and the user has to hit it within a certain time frame before it disappears, focusing on reaction times based on color of objects.
Paintball target practice
A program is being developed simulating a paintball target based game where waves of targets will fall from the screen and the user will have to shoot them all.
Chess strategies
A chess program is being developed which will be used to implement different playing strategies to see which one is the most effective verses a typical chess formation.
A program of the game Phoenix is being developed which will be used to determine the fastest and most efficient way to win this game
A game program is being developed simulating physics, specifically on a "ragdoll" character.
Budgeting basics
In depth program that fuses budgeting with functionality, empowering the user to take control of their assets. 
Effective Visualization of data
An effort to determine how a person’s age or gender affects retention of visualized data.  What approach to data representation is the most effective?

Project Title
Break-resistant headphones
Attempting to prevent headphone wires from breaking over time
Carry-All food tray
Attempting to stop food spills in your car when ordering complete meals.
Cup Holders
Attempting to fix cups from tipping over in cars in a new and innovative way.
Guitar Killswitch
Attempting to make a more accessible kill switch effect for electric guitars.
IPod Screen Glare
Attempting to stop the glare on an iPod, iPad, and iPhone while protecting it with a case.
No-spill food transport
Attempting to prevent food from spilling when transporting. A design utilizing existing containers will be developed
Recoil Pad
Attempting to make a pad that reduces pain from the recoil of a firearm
Slip-proof shoulder bag
Attempting to prevent book bags or bags from sliding off shoulder, and making it comfortable
Tipping PowerAde cooler
Attempting to stop the requirement of tipping a PowerAde cooler to get the last of the liquid.

Spill-proof Paint Pods
Attempting to solve the problem of spilling paint pods during a paint ball excursion.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Respected Historian Visits Dutch Fork High!

By Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

Rebekah Dobrawski, a historian from the South Carolina State Archives spoke to Kelly Payne’s Current Issues class on Monday, November 8th. In 1951, South Carolina passed its first general sales tax in order to fund a statewide program of school construction. Briggs v. Elliott, a landmark civil rights lawsuit filed in Clarendon County, challenged the state’s constitutional separate but equal education provision. An equalization program was instituted to construct new African-American public schools across South Carolina to circumvent a potential desegregation ruling from the Brown v. Board of Education case decided in the Supreme Court.

Over $175 million dollars was spent to build 175+ African-American High Schools and an undocumented amount of white schools throughout South Carolina changing the landscape in the fight to keep segregation. The building construction records were destroyed by inadequate storage at the State Department of Education after 1971. Many of these schools have been demolished or abandoned and over 100 still exist today.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Roland Hakes, AAAA State Cross Country Champion!

By: Barry Lindler, Head Cross Country Coach

Congratulations to junior Roland Hakes for winning the 4-A Boys Individual State Championship for Cross Country on Saturday at Sandhills!

For the second time in 2 weeks, Roland set a new DFHS record, breaking the record held by Everett Ernst since 1995 in the 5000 meter ( 3.1 mile ) event.

Roland won the championship by 10 seconds over the 2nd place runner, with a time of 15:34, the second best time ever run at Sandhills in a State Championship meet, all divisions.

This is Roland's second individual championship, the first being in the 3200 meter ( 2 mile ) event in Track & Field last spring.

Great job Roland!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dutch Fork High Teens Compete for Teen Idol Title

Dutch Fork High School Teens Compete for RCPL Teen Idol Title

Twenty three teens competed in Richland County Public Library Teen Idol at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 28 at the Richland County Public Library located at
1431 Assembly St
Contestants were judged on vocal quality, song selection, projection and stage presence. They competed for the chance to win a variety of prizes, studio time, and the opportunity to sing at a variety of community events.

2010 Dutch Fork High School Contestants were:

Hannah Mount, Dutch Fork High School;
Garrison Stewart, Dutch Fork High School;
Emily Vandiver, Dutch Fork High School;

Congratulations to these students!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Football Tickets Pre-Sale

Football tickets for the November 5th game against Irmo will be available for early purchase Thursday, November 4 and Friday, November 5 at the Dutch Fork High School Business Office from 7:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.  Tickets are $6.00. 

We anticipate a very large crowd Friday night so get your tickets early to avoid long lines at the game.  See you Friday.  GO Foxes!!!!!!!